Emma K. Adam

Emma K. Adam

Edwina S. Tarry Professor of Human Development and Social Policy

Northwestern University

Emma Adam is a developmental psychologist with an interest in applying theory and research on human development to informing policies and programs aimed at improving the wellbeing of children, adolescents and young adults. She is an expert in the developmental psychobiology of stress and sleep.

Adam studies the contributions of work, school, family and individual factors to physiological stress in adolescents and young adults and the implications of stress for child and adolescent behavioral, cognitive and emotional development. She also examines social influences on sleep in children and adolescents, and the implications of variations in sleep timing and quality for health and performance.

Her current research projects examine the role of stress, stress hormones and sleep in the development of mood and anxiety disorders in adolescents and young adults; racial/ethnic disparities in stress and the impact of perceived discrimination on stress hormones, sleep and health; the impact of early adverse relationship experiences on biological stress and health in young adults; and how variations in stress and sleep affect the executive functioning and academic performance of Chicago Public Schools students.

In addition to her Northwestern University affiliations, she is a member of the American Psychological Association, the Society for Research in Child Development, the Society for Research on Adolescence, and the International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology. She is the recipient of a National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Post-doctoral Fellowship, a William T. Grant Scholars Award and the prestigious Curt Richter Award from the International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology.


  • Ph.D. in Child Psychology, 1998

    Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota

  • M.A., Public Policy, 1998

    Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago

  • M.A., Applied Developmental Psychology, 1992

    University of Toronto

  • B.Sc., Psychology, 1990

    University of Toronto